Backpacking around the world on your gap year isn’t all about ultra budget backpacker hostels and dorm rooms. Sometimes it is, but there’s no rule that says you have to stick to that either, and there are some real luxury options out there for even the most budget of backpackers if you know how to bag them!
Backpacking around the world is one of the biggest and best adventures you will ever have in your life, and bunking up with a few strangers (not in the biblical sense, ahem!) in a budget hostel is part of the charm.In fact it is one of the best ways to meet amazing new people to share your adventures with! But it isn’t the only way.
The first thing to remember is that you don’t have to limit yourself. Backpacking is also about experiencing as much variety and awesomeness as you can on your travels, so you don’t have to stay in dorm rooms and budget hostels all the time if you don’t want to. There’s nothing wrong with upgrading yourself to flashpacker status whenever you feel like it. This is your gap year, no one else’s. Only you get to decide how you travel!
All those pennies can add up to a really nice room!
The best way to ensure you can afford to upgrade from time to time is quite simply to budget well for your round the world trip. Yes, I know it’s a boring common sense piece of advice and it isn’t the quick fix magic pill you were looking for, but after 15 years of travelling the world I have not found a better way yet. If you plan well, your trip goes well.
So when you are planning your daily accommodation budget don’t be too tight with it as that will leave you absolutely no wriggle room when it comes to finding accommodation on the ground. The actual numbers will of course depend heavily on where you are travelling, accommodation in Europe is significantly more expensive than say South East Asia, but by overbudgeting very slightly on your daily budget, you can look for cheap options for a spell while you are travelling and perhaps even spend less than you planned in certain places and then have a surplus in your budget that you can splurge on a private room or a bit of luxury for a while. The longer you travel for the more this trick works in your favour.
Getting value for your money.
You also have to think about where you are travelling to as well. Obviously there are parts of the world such as Singapore, Israel, Australia, and pretty much all of Europe for example, where living it up in the lap of luxury is prohibitively expensive. However, there are other parts of the world, especially where tourism isn’t particularly high, where you can find some truly great luxury options. Accommodation in these areas are still relatively expensive compared to a hostel, but they aren’t prohibitively so and you have to look at the price in terms of value for money here too.
The best example I have of this is a magnificent ultra luxury, heritage hotel and spa that I spent a few nights at in Surabaya in Indonesia as a bit of a splurge after doing some volcano trekking in the region. Yes, the cost of a nights stay was still pretty expensive on my budget, but I had saved almost the cost of it by staying in ultra cheap accommodation for an extended period, which meant I had a surplus in my planned budget that I hadn’t spent, and the thing is, the room wasn’t that expensive either. Not when compared to hotels back home.
The point is, the cost of a nights stay here was considerably less than a budget bed and breakfast in Europe, and the once in a lifetime experience I got at that hotel was more than worth the splurge. So the value for money alone was worth the extra spend. Costs are always relative and you have to look at them in those terms too.
Don’t pre book!
Another strong piece of advice is (almost never) pre book, especially through agents. There are of course exceptions to this rule, but on average it is far better to wing it and simply ask if there are better rates as a walk in or in an email a day or two before. Hotels always want to fill a room and don’t like leaving rooms empty, even if it is at the fraction of their normal price. Of course your haggling skills come in pretty handy here too!
Unless you find a really good deal!
But don’t miss out on great deals either. Hotels will always have great deals going and it is easier than it has ever been now to latch onto some free wifi once in a while and just have a search through a lot of aggregate sites and even hotels own websites (not all offers go through third party websites you know). It is a good idea to sign up to a few hotel email lists for the places you know you will be visiting in the near future so that you can be among the first to hear of any great deals that are going on. It may mean a few extra junk emails in your account, but you may bag a great early bird or last minute deal and you can always unsubscribe once you have left the area.
Luxury accommodation doesn’t just have to be ultra high end hotels either, in fact some of the best accommodation I have ever stayed in has been in what is technically ‘middle of the road’ boutique options that are often not that much more expensive than the budget options in the area. There has been a real boutique boom in recent years, especially in regions like South East Asia and parts of Central America with what were previously budget hotels or even guesthouses and other relatively budget accommodation options really upping their game, and in many cases surpassing the quality of the larger, branded and more expensive options! So mix it up a bit and revel in the boutique!
And remember, there are times when you will find that upgrading is a necessity too. Not just for when you want a little ‘you’ time or a bit of privacy after months of shared hostels, or a little bit of comfort to relax and enjoy yourself, there are genuine times when getting a nice, pre booked private room can be a blessing for a variety of reasons, if you are arriving late at night in a strange place after a long journey for example. So don’t assume you have to just stick with the budget options and use these tips to help bag yourself a nice room for a few nights!
Did you enjoy this article? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below or on my Facebook or Twitter pages and please feel free to share it with any or all of the social media buttons. If you want to get more great backpacking tips, advice and inspiration, please subscribe to updates via email in the box to your right.
This is in no way a sponsored post and there are no partnership options with any of the pictured hotels. Any pictures used are for illustrative purposes only and care has been taken not to advertise any given brand. The views and opinions expressed are entirely the authors own based on personal experiences when travelling and are honest and factual without any bias.